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Dear Tom

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by ermferrari, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. I work in an International School as the class teacher of combined Year 5 & 6. The school has only recently opened and has low student numbers, my class has four boys in it, two in Year 5 and two in Year 6.

    The problems are: name calling, resentment and out and out competitiveness. Their favourite subject is invariably how much better they are than each other, which I was, and am, prepared to accept as natural for 10 and 11 year olds. I don't take their bickering too seriously. However, recently it has started to worry me. The two boys in Year 5 are particularly problematic, K and C. K calls C 'stupid', C, for all intent and purposes seems set on proving this true and is slow with his work. To make matters worse both their mothers work at the school and are themselves something of rivals.

    I don't want to interfere in the wrong way because I don't want to make it worse. But I'm already worried that the things I've done ('talking', disciplining, rule setting) haven't helped.

    I looked over a number of your resources the other week and found them to be really well-written and full of down to earth advice, which I found really useful. I hope you can suggest something similar for this.

    Thanks,

    Edward
     
  2. I work in an International School as the class teacher of combined Year 5 & 6. The school has only recently opened and has low student numbers, my class has four boys in it, two in Year 5 and two in Year 6.

    The problems are: name calling, resentment and out and out competitiveness. Their favourite subject is invariably how much better they are than each other, which I was, and am, prepared to accept as natural for 10 and 11 year olds. I don't take their bickering too seriously. However, recently it has started to worry me. The two boys in Year 5 are particularly problematic, K and C. K calls C 'stupid', C, for all intent and purposes seems set on proving this true and is slow with his work. To make matters worse both their mothers work at the school and are themselves something of rivals.

    I don't want to interfere in the wrong way because I don't want to make it worse. But I'm already worried that the things I've done ('talking', disciplining, rule setting) haven't helped.

    I looked over a number of your resources the other week and found them to be really well-written and full of down to earth advice, which I found really useful. I hope you can suggest something similar for this.

    Thanks,

    Edward
     
  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Edward

    It sounds to me that these boys need to be challenged far more closely on their rivalry; in effect, while you perhaps understandably see their behaviour as natural- it probably is- it's leading to effects that are undesirable, inasmuch as they prevent effective learning. A little rivalry is healthy, and competitiveness can provide a good deal of motivation and energy for their efforts, despite what some would say about the damaging nature of antagonism.

    But if a little rivalry is good; this sounds like sheer antisocial behaviour, not one-upmanship. By not stamping on it early enough, it has taken root and flourished. So what can you do about it? Make it clear tomorrow that this isn't acceptable any more, not just to them but to the whole class so that no one feels victimised. the next time someone cusses or calls out, or generally belittles another, you say, 'You've been warned about this.' Then make sure that some kind of consequence ensues. This is no time to pussyfoot around with rationalisations of altruism; they need to see that it's wrong, and they'll get into trouble. If the mothers are rivals, forget them for now; your concern is their children. If the behaviour persists then you need to have separate meetings with the parents to explain that BOTH children are acting badly, in case they try to carry on their family vendettas in the classroom. And they need to see that their antipathy towards each other is damaging their children's futures. That usually changes most parents's minds.

    Also, sanctions take a while to work; they need to be consistent, fair and rigorous. Give them time.

    Good luck

    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Comedy formatting. It must be my browser.
     
  5. Dear Tom,

    Ye-ah, not sure why it's doing that. Android must have an aversion to good paragraphing.

    Thanks a lot for your response. It helped in several ways. The first of which was to realise I'd exaggerated the problem, so your response sets off the situation nicely, lets me in on a bit of perspective. Second, it's good to have 'stick to your guns' reiterated, stops me from leaving those saloon doors swinging.

    Thanks again, all the best,

    Ed
     
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Brilliant, Ed, glad I could be of service in some way.
    Good luck

    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
     

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